Insanity Abounds

Seriously:

Last week the city announced it was closing down a third of its infamous brothels, and in April, its "coffee shops" were forced to choose between serving alcohol or dealing in officially-tolerated marijuana. Most chose the weed, but from next summer the Dutch will ban smoking in all public outlets. How exactly this will affect the wacky baccy trade is unclear, but things will never be the same again in one of the world\’s most progressive and tolerant cities.

Banning the smoking of tobacco in a place that exists for the smoking of cannabis.

Insane.

Am I Missing Something Here?

Set aside, for a moment, the back story, and look only at these specific words:

They predicted that Mr Bush, who is to address the meeting tomorrow, will stress the need to make technological advances that can help combat climate change but will reject mandatory caps on emissions.

Without any reading between the lines or anything that does in fact make perfect sense. It is indeed exactly what we want to do. We want to invent the technologies which will allow us to proceed without boiling the planet. We don\’t actually care about mandatory caps, voluntary ones, what we care about is either reducing emissions or increasing the sequestration of them.

So, what Bush is actually saying is exactly right: we want to make technological advances.

The interesting question of couse is how we do this: politicians picking winners is clearly not the way to go. Bush and corn ethanol, the EU and biofuels, the UK Government and wormeries rather than landfill: all actually create more emissions than business as usual. So on the one hand we have politicians increasing emissions. Can markets inventing technologies (sorry, companies operating in markets) do better? Difficult to see that they could do worse really.

Doesn\’t Like Criticism, Our Ken

The Mayor of London:

"It\’s quite clear we have deliberate manipulation or total neglect or wilful incompetence on the part of the owners and drivers," Mr Livingstone said. "The Cab Drivers Club is a small reactionary clique who have opposed everything I have done as Mayor for six years. If they want to chance their arm they should start suing me for libel because I am saying they falsified the tests." Mr Fleming said that was an "outrageous suggestion".

Such a nice man to have running the major city of Europe, don\’t you think?

New Have a Go Laws

So, why are we having a new look at the laws on self-defense, citizens arrests and so on?

But Mr Straw is understood to have decided new laws were necessary after he was involved in four "have-a go" incidents, which included chasing and restraining muggers near his south London home.

"I know from personal experience that you have all of a milli-second to make the judgment about whether to intervene," he will say. "In such a situation, the law on self-defence works much better than most people think; but not as well as it could or should.

Ahhh. Because one of the ruling elite has had personal experience of the current mess. That the personal is political we all know but to find that only the personal is political is something of a shock. So, given that we have a series of areas where the law needs changing let\’s set up a series of events that will force said ruling elite to sort out the problematic areas of the law, shall we?

Ben Bradshaw to be prosecuted for the use of cannabis. Ruth Kelly\’s children to be taken by social workers to meet adoption targets: the court, of course, meeting in secret. All Ministers, of course, subjected to tax audits on their perks of office (and, more importantly, the use of Grace and Favour housing when out of office).

Anyone got a few more bright ideas?

Ocean Fertilization

This plan might have merits:

They propose that vertical pipes some 10 metres across be placed in the ocean, such that wave motion would pump up cool water from 100-200 metres depth to the surface, moving nutrient-rich waters in the depths to mix with the relatively barren warm waters at the ocean surface.

This would fertilise algae in the surface waters and encourage them to bloom, absorbing carbon dioxide greenhouse gas while also releasing a chemical called dimethyl sulphide that is know to seed sunlight reflecting clouds.

"Such an approach may fail, perhaps on engineering or economic grounds", they say, adding that the effects on the acidity of the ocean also have to be factored in.

While the technique is different the actual aim is very similar to the iron fertilization proposed by Planktos. One other difference, this is proposed by James Lovelock and the past head of the British Antarctic Survey, while Planktos are mere money grubbing capitalists. Shouldn\’t matter, of course, a good idea is a good idea, wherever it comes from, but sadly it does matter.

Certainly it\’s something that might be tried. The basic idea is the same as growing forests: more CO2 is going into the atmosphere than current levels of biomass can sequestrate. So let\’s increase the amount of biomass doing the sequestrating.

Whether it will actually work is another thing, but then that\’s what experiments are for, isn\’t it?

Update. As William says, looks like experimentation won\’t be necessary. Crackpot idea (100 million 200 ft long plastic tubes?).

The Miliblog: Uncensored!

This might get a little amusing. The Boy Dave (M) has his new Foreign Secretary\’s blog up here.

The news that the SG\’s rep has made clear his determination to go to the region suggests the world is realising the need to move as fast as events.

Fascinating stuff, eh?

Comments are unmoderated. Yes, unmoderated. Guido is telling everyone so get your comment in fast, before they realise what they\’ve done.

 

Frivolous Flights Tax

This is a policy propsal straight out of the barking mad box:

Middle-class families flying on "frivolous" city breaks should be taxed by Labour, a key aide to Ken Livingstone told a conference fringe meeting yesterday.

1) Define frivolous.

2) How are you going to check?

So, I\’m middle class, and I\’m flying to Athens in a couple of weeks for two days. So that\’s obviously a frivolous city break, correct? Err, no, it\’s a businessman going to see a university about a method of extracting metals. Who, how and where is going to be able to distinguish between those two scenarios and apply the appropriate tax?

Unless, of course, we appoint a system of gauleiters who interrogate us all before we can book our flights. Perhaps they could check that we\’ve paid our taxes and recyvled our rubbish before we fly too?

 

 

Welcome, Welcome.

To the Blogosphere. Legitimate Tangent. *

What I like to do in my piddling little show of defiance is put my hand up at a meeting every single time some half-wit deploys jargon/acromyms/powerpoint as a means of disguising their ineptitute and improving their standing as a hardcharging bureaucratista. I say \’I\’m sorry, I haven\’t the faintest idea what you are talking about. Can you try again in English.\’ I bathe in the glory of the collective sigh of relief to my left and right as I have just said what everybody else still awake was thinking. I maintain a serious expression to disguise the fact I\’m taking the piss. I watch, smugly, as the speaker struggles to reconcile his desire to be taken seriously and engaged with the fact he hasn\’t an arsing clue what \’annualised performance metrics\’ are either.

Also when some bastard sends me an unsolicited 20 mg presentation which clearly isn\’t an amusing YouTube clip of a dog eating itself or something, I like to wait about 20 minutes to create the illusion of havving looked at the thing and respond:

\’Please explain how this can be operationalised in Derby.\’

H/T Stephen.

Alisher Usmanov Speech

Here is a preliminary transcript of a speech given by Tom Wise last night at about 11 pm. Said speech was given under Parliamentary Privilege and thus may be repeated, without fear of the libel or defamation laws, by any media outlet:

 

When the EU talks of a \’Common Foreign Policy\’ on energy, you need to be aware of exactly who you propose to do business with.

 

President Putin is on record as saying "The Commission should be under no illusions, if it wants to buy Russian gas; it has to deal with the Russian state".

 

Gazprom is not a private company; it is a state controlled tool of Russian foreign policy.

 

It is, moreover, in the hands of Putin\’s political henchmen, and allegedly organised crime.

 

Take for example Alisher Usmanov. This gentleman, the son of a Communist apparatchik, is chairman of Gazprom Invest Holdings, the group that handles Gazprom\’s business activities outside Russia. He is the man you will be dealing with. He is the man who cuts off gas supplies if client states dare to question Gazprom\’s demands.

 

Allegedly a gangster and racketeer, he served a 6 year jail sentence in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, his eventual pardon coming at the behest of Uzbek mafia chief and heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov, described as Usmanov\’s "mentor".

 

Usmanov bought the newspaper \’Kommersant\’. 3 months later, the journalist Ivan Safronov, a critic of the Putin regime who just weeks earlier had been "vigorously interrogated" by the FSB, as the KGB is now called, mysteriously fell to his death from his apartment window still clutching a bag of shopping.
According to Craig Murray, former \\nBritish Ambassador to Uzbekistan, it was Usmanov who ordered the \\ncutting off of supplies to Georgia earlier this year.\\u003cspan\\> \\u003c/span\\>Please take note, Mr President, that the \\nKremlin has now refused to sanction the construction of a pipeline to the EU \\nover Georgian territory.\\u003c/p\\>\\n\\u003cp style\\u003d\”margin:0cm 0cm 0pt\”\\> \\u003c/p\\>\\n\\u003cp style\\u003d\”margin:0cm 0cm 0pt\”\\>These are the people you want to \\ndo business with. These are the people you are moulding your 'foreign policy on \\nenergy' around.\\u003c/p\\>\\n\\u003cp style\\u003d\”margin:0cm 0cm 0pt\”\\> \\u003c/p\\>\\n\\u003cp style\\u003d\”margin:0cm 0cm 0pt\”\\>Mr Commissioner, good luck: \\nYou'll need it.

According to Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, it was Usmanov who ordered the cutting off of supplies to Georgia earlier this year. Please take note, Mr President, that the Kremlin has now refused to sanction the construction of a pipeline to the EU over Georgian territory.

 

These are the people you want to do business with. These are the people you are moulding your \’foreign policy on energy\’ around.

 

Mr Commissioner, good luck: You\’ll need it.

 

 

I\’ll link to the official transcript when it\’s up. Link.

 

 

 

 

Dixon of Dock Green It Ain\’t

Aren\’t we lucky to have such a caring, sharing, police force:

Graeme Deacon was on the M67 near Hyde, Manchester, when he saw the accident on the opposite carriageway. He crossed over and helped the driver to safety. Then a second car drove into the back of the first and caught fire. Mr Deacon helped to free the young driver. Police arrived and offered to drive him to his vehicle. But Mr Deacon said: “The carriageway was empty. I could have crawled across on my hands and knees. There was absolutely no risk. A police officer said, ‘You’ll wait as long as it takes, whether it’s five minutes or two hours. You’ll stay there.’ I went to walk off and three of them pushed me face down in the gravel, hit the back of my legs with a baton and handcuffed me. One said, ‘Shut up or I’ll spray you with CS gas’.”

 

Really?

This is interesting news don\’t you think?

The bull runs of the 1980s and 1990s, and the first half of this decade, with their epoch-making transfer of wealth to the richest 1% of the population, have distracted attention from the actual long-term weakening of advanced capitalist economies. Economic performance in the US, western Europe and Japan has, by virtually every standard indicator – output, investment, employment and wages – deteriorated, decade by decade, business cycle by business cycle, since the early 70s.

1) There\’s been no transfer of wealth. There\’s been a differential allocation of the new wealth created, yes, but not an actual transfer.

2) Err, output, investment and wages are all lower than they were in the early 1970s? It is to laugh.

The years since the current cycle began in early 2001 have been the worst of all – in the US, growth of GDP and jobs has been the slowest since the end of the 1940s, and real hourly wages for about 80% of the workforce have languished at about their 1979 level.

I would love to see where that wages number comes from, really, I would. I have a sneaking suspicion that he\’s looking at "real hourly wages of all employees". Which, given that there\’s been a huge structural change in the workfoce since thn, with part-timers and women flooding into it, is really not a very enlightening number.

The rest of it reads rather like the coming of the Marxist Gotterdamerung. Falling profitability…corporations oppressing the workers….wouldn\’t be surprised to see the reserve army of the unemployed turn up along with the progessive immiseration of the working classes.

Sigh, I thought we\’d rather given up on that failed analysis?

 

The European Union Military

Ooooh, Yes!

Defence is a vital driver of European integration today. The EU must become a true defence community: only then can it become a fully developed international actor.

What an excellent idea!

The EU faces new threats: not only transnational terrorism, but the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and failed states.

Failed states….

Yes, like Transdnestria perhaps? Invade the place and sort it out. Great idea, don\’t you think? Why we could divide the world up into spheres of influence as well. You know, Russia deals with this bit, China that, the US we\’ll tell to stay home as they are the global hegemon and the EU deals with our bit.

It\’s not like we\’ve ever tried anything so gorgeously progressive before now is it? Russia taking care of Slavic interests in the Balkans, talks about who gets to influence Morrocco, what to do with the failing state of the Ottoman Empire, should the ethnic groupings of the Finns, the Letts, be semi-independent or directly ruled…

Actually, we have tried this before and it brought us World War One. What an excellent path for us to go down!